THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
The challenge for the State Department is not necessarily to reduce the role of
the Department of Defense in foreign affairs, but to strengthen our own voice.
Working with the
Let’s Take Full
Advantage of Opportunities
ar is the
of politics by
Carl von Clausewitz in
(1832) is well known to officers
throughout the U.S. military. My guess is that a smaller percent-
age of Foreign Service officers are familiar with it, although it is
as relevant for us as it is for those in uniform. Why is it relevant?
Because military force is one of several elements of national
power that a nation can use to achieve its foreign policy goals.
(Others include economics and trade; information and public
diplomacy; negotiation and foreign aid.)
As we mull over and debate the “militarization of foreign
policy,” it may be useful to remember that our best statesmen
and diplomats did not shy away from the military but were well-
versed in the use of force—and could persuasively articulate
when its use was appropriate and when it was not. Ambassador
(ret.) Ron Neumann immediately comes to mind as someone
who excelled at this.
Now president of the American Academy of Diplomacy,
Amb. Neumann served as chief of mission in Afghanistan from
2005 to 2007, working closely with the U.S. military on coop-
eration between Afghanistan and Pakistan at a particularly
sensitive time. He also advocated for change in how the U.S.
government conducts foreign policy in fragile states, arguing
that the role of ambassadors should be strengthened in conflict
states in“Fixing Fragile States
” (co-authored with retired Admi-
rals Dennis Blair and Eric Olson, and published in the Sept.-
Oct. 2014 edition of
The National Interest)
In today’s world, where the desire for immediate solutions
to complex yet frightening developments (e.g., the spread of
the Islamic State group) is so strong, it is not hard to under-
stand the temptation to focus on the use of force, despite
widespread recognition that force alone will not solve the
problem. In my view, the challenge for State is not necessarily
to weaken or reduce the role of the Department of Defense,
but to strengthen our voice and ensure that our expertise is
recognized as equally valid. One of the things we need to do to
reach that goal is encourage more officers to develop a deep
BY WANDA NESB I TT
Wanda Nesbitt is currently dean of the School of
Language Studies at the State Department’s Foreign
Service Institute. She was the senior vice president of the
National Defense University from October 2013 to July
2016. During a 35-year career at State she has served as the U.S.
ambassador to Namibia, Côte d’Ivoire and Madagascar. She has
also served in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo),
France and Haiti, and worked in multiple positions in Washington,
D.C. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, military
historian James Stejskal.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and
do not reflect the view of the Department of State, the Depart-
ment of Defense or the U.S. government.
ON DIPLOMACY AND DEFENSE